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The wealth of African leaders

Updated: May 14, 2019

According to independent studies (see i.a. here), the top 10 wealthiest African presidents ranked as follows until recently. Some of them left power since the ranking was published, though, this is illustrative of an assumed kleptocracy system depriving hundreds of millions of people from means to develop.

1. Jose Eduardo dos Santos (Angola): $20 billion, while about 70 percent of Angolans live on less than two dollars a day

2. Mohammed VI (Morocco): $2.5 billion, he ascended to the throne following his father’s death in 1999 and promised he would tackle poverty and corruption in Morocco;

3. Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo (Equatorial Guinea): $600 million, the President and his family literally own the country’s economy. His son, also serving as the country’s vice-president, was caught just recently by the Brazilian customs after landing with his private Boeing 777 with more than $16M in his Vuitton suitcases;

4. Uhuru Kenyatta (Kenya): $500 million, With his family, the President owns stakes in numerous companies and banks, as well as hundreds of thousands of hectares of prime Kenyan lands;

5. Jacob Zuma (South Africa): $215 million, recently ousted, he owes his fortune to smart investments and substantial property holdings, including a football team and his own brand of vodka;

6. Paul Biya (Cameroon): $200 million, in a country where 48 percent of the citizens live below the poverty line, several media have placed him in the list of leaders with ill-gotten wealth. He plans to run for a seventh consecutive term in office in the October 2018 election, stating in a tweet: “Dear Compatriots in Cameroon and the Diaspora, Aware of the challenges we must take up together to ensure a more united, stable and prosperous Cameroon, I am willing to respond positively to your overwhelming calls. I will stand as Your Candidate in the upcoming presidential election”;

7. King Mswati III (Swaziland): his net worth dropped from $200 in 2012 to $100 million in 2014, nevertheless, in the 2014 budget, parliament allocated $61 million for the King’s annual household budget, while 63 percent of Swazis live on less than $1.25 per day. His 15 wives take multi-million dollar shopping sprees in countries like England and the Middle East;

8. President Goodluck Jonathan (Nigeria): $100 million. From a poor boy to a zoology professor, then president. Throughout his presidency, major corruptions were uncovered and 90 million of Nigerians (50%) continue to live on less than a $1 a day;

9. General Idriss Deby Itno (Chad): $50 million. In October 2006, Forbes magazine ranked Chad top on the list of most corrupt countries in the world for what may be regarded as the “the single most piggish use of philanthropic funds” after revenues intended for combating famine and foster development were used to acquire arms to keep the regime in power;

10. Robert Mugabe (Zimbabwea): $10 million. Though he is now history, with another $ 10 million golden handshake, he left is country with a worthless currency, massive debts, an impoverished population and an estimated unemployment rate of more than 80%, education is basic and healthcare almost non-existent. A life expectancy of 60 is one of the lowest in the world.

This list could easily be completed with other names, as fortunes are often not declared. For instance, Congo President Joseph Kabila and his family own stakes in more than 80 companies at home and abroad that are likely worth 10s of millions of dollars, Before Kabila’s father, Laurent-Desire, came to power in 1997, he and his family lived in exile in Tanzania, where the family struggled financially. Now, the Kabila family’s holdings include over 70,000 hectares of farmland, a lucrative stake in Congo’s largest mobile phone network and over 100 mining permits for diamonds and gold, a report by the Congo Research Group at New York University said, based almost entirely on public records.

But whatever the African elite’s understanding of their role, the Mangrove Foundation will keep on doing its fair share. We contribute to the daily fight against social inequalities and try by all means to give back the power to the people we support. Continue to follow us on a daily basis, it is to help us in this fight. We will soon report on those and other African countries’ debts, and the aid they have received.


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